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Olympic Torch Relay Highlights

Traditionally, relays have been carried out on foot (for Berlin 1936, London 1948 and Moscow 1980 the relays were entirely run in this way). Although at the beginning, runners were mainly selected from amongst athletes, gradually the general public began to participate as well. As the celebration of the Olympic Games has evolved, so has the Olympic torch relay. The modes of transport have slowly become more and more diversified, not only for practical reasons, but also to showcase the particularities of the regions crossed.

The flame in the snow!

Legendary Norwegian skiers (or their descendants) carried out the entirety of the transport of the flame (Oslo 1952). The flame went into the Arctic Circle at Inuvik, with stages carried out by snow-bike and skidoo (Calgary 1988), the flame has also visited Alert, the northernmost permanently inhabited community in the world (Vancouver 2010).

The flame in the water, on the water and under water!

In the sea off Veracruz, Mexico, swimmers carried the flame from the boat Durango to the shore (Mexico 1968). A diver swam across the port of Marseilles holding the flame out of the water (Grenoble 1968). The flame travelled on the frigate Cataluña for the passage between Greece and Spain and arrived on Spanish soil in Empuries, the gateway to Greek civilisation on the Iberian peninsular (circa 600 B.C.) (Barcelona 1992). A diver even carried the flame under water at the Great Barrier Reef (Sydney 2000). In Venise, a Gondola was used to cross the Canal Grande (Torino 2006) and for the 2010 relay, the flame was carried by a surfer (Vancouver 2010).

The flame in the air, through the air and in space!

The flame made its first trip in an aeroplane (Oslo 1952). It later traveled faster than the speed of sound on its journey from Athens to Paris – aboard the Concorde! (Albertville 1992). The wonders of technology were highlighted when the Canadians organized the transmission of the flame by satellite between Athens and Ottawa (Montreal 1976). For the first time in the history of the Olympics, the transfer of the flame took place between two parachute jumpers (Lillehammer 1994). It also made an impressive entry at the opening ceremony of the Games, carried by a ski jumper during his actual jump! (Lillehammer 1994). The torch (but not the flame) was carried into space by astronauts (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000).

The flame on horseback and on a camel!

To mark the fact that the equestrian events were held separately from the other Olympic events, the torchbearers for the journey of the flame from Kastrup (Denmark) to Stockholm carried the flame entirely on horseback (Melbourne/Stockholm 1956). Horses played a special role again when the history of the Pony express was featured as a part of a torch relay (Atlanta 1996). They were replaced by camels when the flame crossed the Australian desert (Sydney 2000).

The flame and the Wild West!

For the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, the modes of transport that were used bring to mind great moments in American history. For example, the flame traveled in an Indian canoe, on a Mississippi steamboat, and on a wagon of the Union Pacific (the first transcontinental railroad) (Atlanta 1996).